Yesterday at the monthly meeting of the Housing Authority of Douglas County Board of Commissioners, their Chair Herm Oberholzer revealed that he and the Executive Director have been working behind the scenes to get a legal opinion from their attorney at Harrang and Long (a law firm in Portland) supporting their desire to remove HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez from her short stint on the Commission.
Although the lawyer clearly said NO!, Oberholzer spent a good majority of the meeting harraning his fellow Commissioner Sanchez anyway.
The reason is Commissioner Sanchez declined to sign a pledge to her fellow commissioners that is a creature of some association, but has nothing to do with a Commissioners legal obligations. Although Commissioner Sanchez believes that many of the things outlined in the HADCO Commissioners Pledge can give guidance to how board members might interact with each other, She and CEA have seen former HADCO Commissioner Sharon Blodgett and current HADCO Chair Herm Oberholzer attempt to use it to try to intimidate their former fellow commissioner Joy Mayorga into waiving her rights as a resident. Also, the bottom line is that the only thing a public housing authority commissioner in Oregon must do is pledge to uphold the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions, which Commissioner Sanchez did at her first board meeting when she took her oath of office.
It was clear at the meeting that the legal opinion they got from their attorney at Harrang and Long was that Commissioner Sanchez had no legal obligation or duty to sign anything, including the Pledge that Commissioner Oberholzer so badly wants her to do.
It was also perfectly clear that Herm ordered an investigation into getting rid of his fellow Commissioner without having told any of his fellow Commissioners that he was doing this. Oberholzer apparently instructed the Executive Director to contact HADCO attorney to see what they could do about Ms. Sanchez and if they could get her off the Commissioner if she did not sign. Although Oberholzer knew the attorney told him and Dolly Newman that HADCO could not remove a fellow commissioner or ask the appointing body to do so, he spent so much time at yesterdays meeting discussing the matter that two of the Commissioners had to leave.
HADCO Commissioners Chris Spens inquired about what event caused the HADCO Chair to go after this issue and go to the Board’s attorney. The response given by Oberholzer is was that Commissioner Sanchez had shared some public business with a member of CEA, a “activist group”. However Oberholzer was not even aware of this before he had the Executive Director contact HADCO’s attorney. It was clear from the communication that Commissioner Oberholzer was using taxpayer money to create a witch hunt to go after a peer he disagrees with.
HADCO’s other new Commissioner Jody Ahlstedt read into the record the attorney opinion that fellow Commissioner Sanchez had not violated any law and there was no grounds to remove her from office. She also got confirmation from Dolly Newman that was the legal opinion of the lawyers.
Commissioner Sanchez asked under what authority Oberholzer contacted HADCO’s legal council about the issue without full board approval. Herm responded that he was the chair and could do it on his own authority or some such misconception of his authority. Unfortunately, the matter of Chair Oberholzer using his position as HADCO Board of Commissioners Chair to contact their attorney for a legal opinion that the board had never discussed did not get dealt with because two of the Commissioners had to leave.
With only a quorum left, Commissioner Sanchez asked for clear directive and understanding that the Excutive Director is not to take directions from the Chair without board approval, and that the Chair is not to act on his own to ask for an attorney opinion or she was going to leave because not going to allow the harangue from Herm to continue.
At that point, Herm tabled the item without anyone’s consent–the meeting was over.
Should this guy be HADCO chair? Should this guy be on the HADCO Commission at all?
Luckily for the public, this meeting was audio recorded, so we will post the portions dealing with this issue after we get a copy.
Enough for now.